I have a big two year old.. that will be even a bigger 3 year old wb to start under saddle... I normally send them out to be started, but think his temperament might allow this older amateur to do it herself.
anyway.. what do you do? english or western? this is a big wamblood gelding that shows a big buck in the field, but has not really shown that under tack in the round pen yet.... what are your thoughts? he has worn a saddle and bridle, but that's about it at age 2.6
I have a two year old filly that I am training myself. She lunges, has worn tack including bridle and I have long lined/driven her a few times with lines attached to sides of halter. This weekend, my plan is to long line some more and maybe try useing the bridle for driving. If all goes well, I will try driving her down the quiet dead end road I live on. This will be while wearing the saddle. I guess the next step will be to get on and just sit there. She's a very quiet doll but like your boy, she has plenty of kick, buck, rock and roll in the field. Yet when I call her and work with her, she is very quiet. I am hoping she will maintain this attitude with her old mom on board...gulp. I'm sure she will be fine. Beyond sitting on her, I just want to walk her around the paddock a few times for this year's training. She is big also, but she is still a baby and I won't ride her any more than that until next year when she turns three. They won't do much if you take it slow and do not go past their comfort zone. Good luck with your boy.
PS: I ride English, the saddle I use for her is English. I don't even own a Western saddle. I would borrow one if I thought there might be bucking involved.
ALl of mine learn to carry a western saddle and get ridden it it first. If theya re used to a big, heavier saddle with stirrups slapping them then they tend to be pretty desensitized. Gives the rider more stability for the first few rides (as long as you are used to a western saddle).
I start all of mine. I typically don't back them until they're 3. However by the time I do get ready to sit on their back with tack, I've taught them to lunge and respond to both driving aids (whip, voice, body position) and whoa/voice commands. I'm not "big" on going around and around in a circle on young joints so once I've established the proper responses I move on to long lining/ground driving so that everyone knows how to steer, whoa with rein pressure and acceptance of the bit before I start mounting. They also have worn a saddle with stirrups dangling and had a few other "tests" regarding reins thrown over their head, switching direction on long lines so ropes/lines dragging over their butt, etc so again I have a feel for what flips their switch and what does not. Depending on the beast many I've sat on or played around with putting some weight on their back while they're growing up before mounting so I have a pretty good idea what their response will be by the time I do mount with tack. Then I usually do a few mounting sessions with someone holding the reins (or lead with halter over bridle) - on, off, on, off, etc. I'll sit there and get them use to me moving around in the saddle, light leg pressure and brushing against their sides. I also have the ground person turn their head to each direction so that they can see me up there and it's not a huge surprise. Then if I feel they are ready I have someone lead me around. Again depending on the responses and the personality of the beast I will either have someone lunge me in the round pen while in the saddle or I'll go solo in the round pen. After I feel that they have become accustomed to my weight in the saddle, have some semblance of steering with me up there and know WHOA I move on to the arena and trails. Some take just a short time to advance and some take a lot more time to develop trust and meet my comfort level before heading out. I'm an older amateur too but I've been doing this for many years and with many younguns'.
Oh I have a couple of western saddles but I'm most comfortable in my dressage saddles so that is what I use (with a bucking strap of course) and helmet firmly in place
Oh and as for getting the wee ones out on the trail, most of mine have been ponied already by that time or occasionally if I've acquired them as a late two year old so that they haven't had that experience I'll go out a few or if necessary several times with someone else who is mounted on one of our seasoned individuals. Over the years I have found that the younger ones who get a lot of trail experience especially early on are usually the easiest to deal with at shows, clinics, etc.
I don't get on their back until they are very responsive to ground driving, and know at the very least walk, trot, and the word WHOA. They learn about leg pressure from me on the ground, steering, etc basically everything I'd do ON them, but from the ground. Once they get that and are fine with life. My first couple of times all I do is get on and off them, make them stand - positive experience. Once this seems humdrum I'll ask them for the walk and spend a lesson with walk, whoa and mouting/dismounting. I'll do this for a few rides to help them with strength and balance before I ask for a trot. When they are walking around comfortably, listening to light rein/leg aids and voice - I'll ask for trot, rinse, recycle, repeat for canter. The timing really depends on the horse but because I do it myself - I'm in no rush, take my time and keep everything short and positive at first. Can you have a newly backed horse w/t/c for 30 minute sessions in 30 days, sure - you can also have someone who has never worked out running a 10k in 3 weeks, but the faster you push them the more likely for injury. The way I figure it, their muscles have NEVER had to hold a person before, it's new not only mentally but taxing physically. For that reason I let them build comfort and confidence slowly.
I also like hacking them out of the ring when I'm first starting. If you have a sensible mount to go with, a nice 15 minute walk in the woods is a wonderful way to get them going and not resent the job.
I start my own as well. I don't have an arena so I establish ground work with tack, proceed to long lining around the farm, then ground driving down our country roads. I will mount and sit on them a few times at home. When they are fine with that, one day while out on the road, I just hop on and ride back home. Once "go" is understood, I mount up at home and we go on trail rides with another horse (if I can find a friend to come over and ride with me) - but often enough we go out on our own. We may make a few trips to an indoor for something different. That's it for first year under saddle.
I've started a few of my own and never ever had one buck. If you put in the proper foundation it's not at all a difficult thing to do. My last one was a 17h 4yo TB straight out of the field with zero education besides knowing how to lead, and within 2 weeks I was riding him. Never had a problem. Once they know go and whoa on the ground and have been desensitized to some things, it's pretty simple from there. I've started all mine in an english saddle.
I have a 2yo at the moment also and I'm taking more time with her (just don't feel like she's mature enough to sit on yet) so I'm doing some more advanced stuff like long lining and ponying her that I haven't done with the others. I have nothing else to do, might as well! I might send mine somewhere after she's w/t/c to get her started over fences and put a lead change on, but we'll have to see just how easy she is. As of right now she wears tack, lunges, knows voice commands (walk, trot, canter, whoa, easy), has had some desensitizing done, been ponied, and we're just starting the long lining. I'm hoping she'll be mature enough to sit on by Dec/Jan, but if not I can wait til more like May when she turns 3. I just want her broke enough to go do the young horse U/S class at the Summer Circuit next year.
If you think he's going to be huge, you might want to sit on him and teach him to walk and turn before he gets too big. I've heard some nasty stories about waiting too long with the big ones. I know several top trainers that sit on them a handful of times when they are 2 y.o. just to get that taken care of before they get too big. Good luck!
Member of both the Southern California and Michigan clique - currently residing in Grand Rapids, MI
I like a western saddle on the babies, just because it's heavier and helps desensitize them before you even get on. And... great for trail rides, which are perfect for building brave baby brains. Sometimes the unexpected happens when you're out of the ring (let's face it, sometimes with babies it happens inside the ring too), and I prefer a western saddle to an english saddle with a buck strap for the simple reason that at Mach 10 spook speed the babies can actually run out from under you (er, should I say me?).
What about starting a hunter horse/pony with dressage? I have always had hunter professional start our hunter ponies but recently broke one myself. So far the training is going well... but I can't help wondering what she would be like (more balanced? better collected when starting lead changes training), if she had a dressage foundation.
Has anyone started their hunter with dressage work? How do you deal with the "vertical head" position of dressage when you transition to the longer neck carriage of hunters (especially the poked-out-nose way of going for hunter ponies)?
Vixen Run Farm: Breeding and training ponies for the hunter ring!
Breeder of the 2008 PAHBF's Best PA Bred Pony!
I'm very lucky as I do everything in partnership with my husband. Two people is very simple.
Don't worry about the bucking in the field, if they are properly started, most never ever have a buck with you during the starting process unless they aren't ready for something. Hubby does all the ground work such as lunging, driving, ect. But we differ from most of you in that from the very first session, I lay over them, as in after the session. They just learn that I'm there and no one's ever had an issue.
Once you start your youngsters yourself I think you realize just how trusting they are. Very rarely you get a jerk, but most are really happy with the whole process and love working.
COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.
"I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.
This is a very timely thread as we have a 2yo that's asking for more work.
He loads, he ties, he clips, he longes, you can tack him and we've started bitting work. We have horse friends that think my DW should get on him 3-4 times and leave him till next year. She likes to do the breaking of our young ones b/c we can be as slow and patient as we want/they need.
This guy is ~16hh and 1/2 Trak out of a Dutch/TB mare. We have a 5yo by his sire and he was an easy break. He only bucked once and that was when she kicked him asking for the canter. He's not spooky and is very confident on the ground. We hope that he'll be as easy as his brother.... problem is, he seems more capable of launching himself into the air at interesting angles and from ANY position/gait.
Currently our "plan" is to work on bitting more and start ground driving. We've been hauling him to shows with the working hoses to get him used to standing at the trailer and all the commotion of a show. So far that has gone quite well and he's relaxed a LOT already. He's also done an in-hand show and will do a few more of those to get ready for FEH. If things continue this way we'll get on him this time next year.
Load Dufus in trailer. Drive to trainer's barn. Unload Dufus. Hand Dufus to trainer. Tell trainer..."call me when he's cooked."
I would agree that if you usually send the horses away to be started you might as well send this one off, too. If he does really great, then bring him home early.
Obviously you know yourself and your situation the best. I only make this point because:
1) Your confidence is your best asset as a rider. Breaking babies can be hard on the confidence of an amateur.
2) Let's say he does overface you...if a big strong young horse gets an idea of how much bigger and stronger he is, that can be very difficult and time consuming to fix.